THE number of jobs rose in the North last month for the first time in four months while there was a fall across the UK, says a new report.
Permanent staff appointments increased in the Midlands, the North and the South, but fell in London, said a national report by accountancy giant KPMG.
But the survey’s findings looked less convincing after another from Lloyds TSB found exactly the opposite – that staff levels fell in the North East at the fastest rate for a quarter, although it found businesses here were winning a growing number of new orders.
The KPMG report also said salaries continued to rise in September in the North for the seventh month running although at a slower rate than the national average.
Mick Thompson, office senior partner at KPMG in Newcastle, said: “The news that demand for permanent staff in the North is finally on the increase after a three-month dip can only be viewed as encouraging, particularly in the context of the slight reduction in demand nationally. However, the modest nature of this growth would suggest it’s far too soon to be talking about any signs of ‘green shoots’.
“One would hope that the Government’s plans to increase lending to businesses will help fuel job creation, but while confidence in the region remains fragile, a complete jobs recovery is by no means guaranteed.”
Meanwhile another report said business activity in the North East stabilised in September as new orders returned to growth.
The Lloyds TSB North East Business Activity Index of the output of the region’s manufacturing and service sectors believed staff levels fell in September at the fastest rate for a quarter. It added that the rate of job cuts was sharper than the UK average.
It said that output stabilised and that new orders returned to growth in September, ending a six-month sequence of decline.
Sector data showed that the overall rise in new business was driven by service providers as manufacturing new orders decreased.
Craig McNaughton, area director for Lloyds TSB Commercial in the North East, said: “The rise in new business in the North East during September raises hopes that the current downturn in the region may be coming to an end. However, further growth in demand will be needed in coming months to give firms the confidence to increase output and start hiring again.”
And another quarterly survey of financial directors, this time from accountants Deloitte said it saw a rebound in confidence after record Q2 decline.
It also reported UK finance chiefs see a 43% probability of the UK recession continuing or recurring within the next two years. It said more than a quarter of those surveyed expected one or more countries to leave the euro within next 12 months.
Paul Feechan, office senior partner at Deloitte in Newcastle, said: “CFO optimism has made up some of the record losses we saw in the second quarter of this year, when the euro crisis intensified. Spirits seem to have been lifted by the promise of more aggressive action from the Federal Reserve to support growth, and from the European Central Bank to strengthen the single currency.”